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I guess I just like liking things

I’m traveling this weekend and conservative estimates put me at being in a car for around 18.5 hours over the span of around 52 hours. Three to four of those hours will be spent in, around, and through Chicago. Just about the only thing I dislike more than driving is driving through Chicago. Too much traffic, too many people only concerned with themselves, too much going on. “But the skyline!” you say. Yes, I have seen very lovely pictures, thank you. The pictures are much better than the skyline has ever been for me while I’m avoiding being killed by trucks. “The food!” you further say. I do not eat much food while driving through Chicago, and when we stop for Chicago-style deep dish pizza because my wife loves it, I always ask for my own pizza with the thinnest crust they have. “The —!” you try to say before I cut you off. Listen, I’m not likely to ever enjoy being in a Big City, and Chicago just happens to be the biggest of the closest ones, so it is, to me, the worst one ever. Unfair judgment, I know.

I also don’t much care for flying, and buses aren’t any better.  I suspect I’d like trains okay, but they’re so much slower and equally as expensive, so I’ll likely never find out.

Star Trek predicted (and caused, I’m sure of it) things like cell phones and tablets, and there are plenty of people working on plenty of other things from Star Trek – you know there’s a hypospray out there somewhere, it’s just being blocked by the People Who Want To Stick Sharp Things Into Other People union. And every body wants a holodeck, even though that would mean the end of civilization as we know it.

But the two most desired pieces of tech from Star Trek are the replicators and transporters. Replicators mean you can whatever you want whenever you want and would solve any famine issues anywhere, plus let you make any item you’d need while you’re at it.  Good work, replicators! We’ll try not to think about where you’re getting your molecules for the creation of all this food, and we’ll try not to worry about people using the technology to create horrible robots that will enslave us.

Transporters, though. The end of driving through Chicago? I think that’s what the word “utopia” means in the original Greek. Give us 10 seconds or so and we’ll have you at your destination, no muss, no fuss. Sounds awesome!  …until you start looking at it even a little.

Gene Roddenberry came up with the idea of transporters to save time and money by not having the Enterprise land on every planet it happened upon. Genius, and cool-looking besides. Later on people threw some science at it to sort of explain how it works, and there’s even mention of some “Heisenberg Compensators,” probably my favorite bit of technobabble in all of Star Trek. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, simply stated (probably too simply), is that you can never exactly tell where Walter White is at a particular moment (“Walter White” being “quantum particles” in this instance). How to solve that problem for a transporter, which needs to know where every last bit of a person is so it can reassemble that person? Enter the Heisenberg Compensators, which solve that problem by compensating for the problem. DO NOT ASK HOW IT DOES THIS, IT DOES IT BY DOING IT. I love it.

The only logical response to the query, "Hey, you want to try out this transporter?"

The only logical response to the query, “Hey, you want to try out this transporter?”

So that’s nice that the transporters have that built in, because that’s what you’d want, definitely. I’m still never getting in a transporter, though, and it’s not because I don’t want to turn into a Brundlefly, it’s because I’m never coming back. Oh, sure, it’ll look like I have, but the real me got zapped into nothingness on the sending pad. The receiving pad didn’t really receive anything other than instructions on how to build a replica of me and slap my memories and whatnot into it. You can’t transport matter, people, except physically!  So now I’m not really me, but I’m still me (unless I’m the Mirror Universe version of me, which is a whole different problem with the transporters). Two months after the first transporters are put into common use someone has used the “I’m not really me so I didn’t sign that agreement” argument to get out of a contract or a bill payment or whatever else. Dr. McCoy had it right all along, and you’ll notice it was a doctor, someone who knew more about how the human body works than the engineers who were all “heck yeah we can transport things so we should!”

So I’m back to no solution on getting through Chicago. Self-driving cars seems like a good idea, but I’m pretty sure there was a Doctor Who episode about how that’s bad, too.

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